Top 10 "Outside of the Box" Golf Tips
All tips are given with the assumption of a
you ever seen a Professional Basketball Player shoot a
free-throw or Tennis player hit a serve. Did you
notice anything in particular that they would do in the
process? Athletes have some strange habits or "rituals",
but the key is their consistency in doing so. For
example, The University of Maryland's Juan Dixon will tap
a tattoo on his chest before every free-throw. This may seem to be unrelated to
making a basket, but the fact that he does it EVERY TIME
is crucial in him being a consistently good free-throw
complaint that I receive from my students is that they lack
consistency. No matter what type of shot you hit
(straight, hook, fade, etc...), you can be a good golfer if
you can hit that shot consistently. How do we go about
this? There's a lot of swing
mechanics that may be involved, but a good pre-shot routine
will help you create this consistency. Watch your
favorite Tour Player hit an iron shot, a drive, and a putt,
and I guarantee you that they have some sort of "routine"
before each shot. Watch a tennis player when they serve.
They will bounce the ball the same number of times and make the
same number of looks to their opponent before making the
own. For a putt, stand behind the ball, pick out a
target a couple of feet in front of the ball, and address the
ball for a few practice swings. Make a few practice
swings until you feel the correct tempo. Then, place the
club behind the ball and aim the face. Take your stance
then pull the trigger. Be creative if you like, but come
up with some sort of routine and do it EVERY TIME. Not
just on the course, but also when you are practicing. Do
the same with your drives, iron shots, chips, pitches, and
sand shots. Notice that you will also feel less nervous
over a shot, because you have gone through something that is
comfortable to you.
If you have any
questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Thanks for visiting, and remember why we play this game and
have fun out there.
the Driver from the Bunker
It’s not uncommon to see PGA Tour players
occasionally hitting the driver off the
fairway, but what would you say if I said it
was possible to hit the driver from the
bunker? You can!
The key here is to hit on the
lower portion of the face. As shown
by the top photo, hitting lower on
the face will generate more
backspin, helping the ball to lift
higher and quicker. If you catch the
ball more in the middle (lower
photo), the ball is likely to travel
on a lower trajectory out of the
driver from the sand is actually doable, so
long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
First, the ball needs to be sitting up on a
clean lie. Second, the sand should be on the
firmer side. Third, it helps to have a
slight uphill lie. And fourth, make sure
there isn’t a big lip between the ball and
If your shot passes those four variables,
here’s what else you need to know. Play the
ball as you normally would, with the ball
positioned forward in your stance. As for
your swing, try not to swing at 100 percent;
instead swing as hard as you can without
your feet sliding around. Finally, unlike
your normal driver swing, which requires you
to shift your weight forward, it’s okay to
hang back a little and let the club swing
out in front of you. Hitting it fat isn’t
likely, mainly because the driver has such a
flat, wide sole, making it easier to slide
across and bounce off the sand instead of
digging down into it.
» Hook Your
Optically, it takes some getting
used to, but if you close the
clubface (relative to the target)
and swing from inside the target
line to outside the target line,
you’re most definitely going to hit
Becoming a good wedge player
means you have to hit consistent
shots. Many amateurs
struggle with hitting consistent
shots from within 125 yards.
Sometimes the ball spins; sometimes
it doesn’t. Sometimes it flies
straight; other times not so much.
Trajectory control becomes tricky
too, with some shots flying high and
others flying low. Whew, with that
many variables, what’s one to do?
great way to dial in some
consistency with your wedge shots is
to learn a shot that I personally
love to hit. It’s a medium-height
draw that, upon landing, trickles
forward onto the green and rolls out
about 10 feet. It’s not a
high-spinning shot that trickles
back toward the pin, nor does it
stop dead on the green—although
neither of those two types of shots
are easy to predict. A draw however
is easy to duplicate, and with some
practice, you’ll quickly learn how
the ball reacts on the green and
soon start using this shot to your
How you hit this draw is simple.
Address the ball as you normally
would, with a comfortable ball
position. Only now, close your
clubface about 20 degrees. To get an
idea of what that should look like
to you, the photo to the left shows
what I mean. The two tees on top are
pointing to the right of the target,
and the two tees slanting down are
where the face is pointing. The key
to hitting this shot requires you to
swing along the top two tees just to
the right of the target, with a
Hit your Hybrid like a 6 Iron
WITH THE TWO-BALL DRILL
If you don’t know the
right way to hit a high-lofted
fairway wood or hybrid, look no
further than your 6-iron.
That’s right, your 6-iron.
High-lofted woods and hybrids
actually are designed to strike the
ball with a descending blow, not a
sweeping or ascending one that you
need with a driver or fairway wood.
Mentally, this is a tough obstacle
to get past, but with this simple
drill, you’ll ingrain not only the
proper visual, but also the right
feel for hitting down on the ball
with a club that’s not an iron.
First, set up a shot as you normally
would, with the ball slightly
forward of center. Back off the
shot, and position a second ball,
this time on a tee about a foot or
two behind the ball as I’ve done
here. Then, without hitting the golf
ball behind the ball on the ground,
make a few practice swings and then
go ahead and hit a few shots. This
drill steepens your swing so you can
more effectively hit down and into
the turf after contact with the golf
ball. In no time, you’ll see better
Strengthen your Grip to hit a Fade
of the most misunderstood aspects
of the golf swing is the grip.
strong or weak left hand, you still can find
a way to hit either a draw or fade.
Typically, instructors equate a fade with a
weak left hand, but I’m hear to tell you
that’s not the only way.
An effective way to hit a surefire fade is
to adopt a strong left-hand grip. The only
possible caveat from attempting this shot is
that the hands will have a delayed release,
meaning you’ll likely lose some power. But
if it’s a fade you want, here’s how you do
trick is to hold the left hand in a strong
position at impact, as I’m illustrating in
the above photo. What will be required to
pull this off is a strong rotation of the
body, which should continue rotating well
after impact with the golf ball.
And again, because the act of holding the
hand in this position will delay the release
and rotation of the clubhead, the fade you
produce won’t have a ton of power. But if
you’re looking for a repeatable, accurate
shot that flies high and lands softly, the
delayed-release fade is ideal.
prevent your fade from becoming a slice,
make sure you keep rotating your body
through the shot. Also, the clubhead will
need to release at some point. If you try to
stifle your release entirely, you not only
run the risk of injury, but also will slice
more and lose even more power and control.
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that
although releasing the hands and rotating
the hands should happen simultaneously,
they’re not the same thing. The hands will
release, but in the case of this shot, the
rotation is what you should try to lessen in
order to hit a powerful fade.
One of the most prolific
and exciting players to ever play the game,
Fred Couples has made a hefty career out of
hitting a big, powerful fade off the
tee—with a strong left-hand grip, mind you.
Like A.J. said, the key to Couples’ ability
in hitting a fade is his big body rotation
through the shot, which then prevents him
from blocking and slicing the ball to the
right. But where does his power come from?
Like most Tour players known for power,
Couples is among the best at not only making
a solid rotation, but also retaining the
angle between his left arm and the shaft in
the few microseconds before making impact
with the ball. Also, like A.J. said, Couples
is able to release the club (unload the
angle between the shaft and his left arm)
without rotating the clubface closed (which
otherwise would produce a straight shot or
even a draw). Releasing and rotating are two
different things. To hit the power fade like
Freddie, you have to make a strong release
with less rotation.
Hit the Driver, NOT the 3 Wood
the right choice is the bigger one.
Fairway woods have indeed come a long way.
I’d actually say that my current fairway is
both bigger and longer than my driver was 20
to 30 years ago. And yet, despite the
advances in fairway woods, drivers have
exploded in size, making them not only
bigger, but also enormously longer and more
So, why not use one as often as you can? If
you’re faced with a choice between driver
and fairway wood on a tight hole, consider
the bigger, more forgiving alternative. You
could do more with it, such as choking down
on the grip, teeing the ball lower or even
making a three-quarter swing to mimic a
fairway wood but still take advantage of the
bigger, more forgiving head.
Speaking of which, as you can see, I use a
460cc driver so I can maximize my distance
and get as much forgiveness across the
clubface as possible.
Are Pros Better
Off Hitting THE Driver, Too?
To answer that question,
let’s take Robert Garrigus for example. As
of the end of August this year, Garrigus was
leading the PGA Tour in driving distance
with an average bomb of 312 yards. In
addition to being long, Garrigus was ranked
7th in greens in regulation (GIR), hitting
approximately 70 percent of all greens.
Coincidence? We think not. Longer drives
generally mean shorter and easier approach
shots—even if they’re hit from the rough.
(The USGA also realized this and has put
restrictions on grooves to counteract the
lessening effects of missing the fairway.
We’ll see how that changes things in ’10.)
But what about you? Well, like A.J. said, if
you’re just as accurate with your driver as
you are with your fairway wood, then hit the
driver! It’s longer and more forgiving off
the tee than any fairway wood.
» Play the
best players in the world use the best golf
balls for their game. Why is it then that
most amateurs do the complete opposite? Tour
professionals require their golf balls to do
certain things that the rest of us can do
without. Do you want more sidespin? Are you
hoping to hit your drives lower? How about
your wedges shorter? Tour pros sometimes put
those kinds of demands on their golf balls,
which is contrary to what amateurs generally
Instead, amateurs (mid- to high-handicap
ones) should consider golf balls built for
distance and minimizing spin, two factors
that will help hit straighter and longer
shots. And by the way, distance balls no
longer feel like rocks. Some are extra soft
for added feel and performance.
» Hit a
Knockdown Lob Shot
It may seem counterintuitive to use
“knockdown” and “flop shot” in the same
sentence, but I’m here to tell you it works.
good, go-to flop shot is easier than you
think! First, make sure you notice the loft
of your lob wedge. Most hover in the 58- to
60-degree range, meaning you’ll have no
problem lifting the ball into the air.
There’s no need to try to lift the ball
To hit the knockdown flop shot, position the
ball front of center in your stance, with
your hands just ahead of the golf ball.
Because you already have plenty of loft,
there’s no need to rotate the face open.
Keep it square to the target.
initiate your backswing, cock your wrists so
the club is already parallel to the ground
when the hands reach your thighs. Continue
your backswing as you normally would, and
keep that angle! As you transition from the
top of your swing to impact, here’s the most
important bit of info: Keep the hands ahead
of the ball and stay low! If you try to flip
the ball up, sure, you may occasionally hit
a lobber. But good luck controlling it.
Instead, stay low both at impact and through
the finish, as I’m doing in this sequence.
The result will be a nice mid-high lob shot
that trickles a few feet forward once it
hits the green.
from ABOVE the Hole
One of the toughest
shots around the green is
the chip from above the
hole. But, who said you have
to chip it?
You don’t! Try putting it
instead. You’re going to
have to practice to get a
feel for how the ball reacts
out of the rough or fringe,
but even from above the
hole, using the “ole Texas
wedge” is a high-percentage
option for most amateurs to
consider. The longer rough
will slow the ball down, and
even though it’s a downhill
putt, the ball still will
lose momentum (mainly from
the friction of the grass).
Just make sure you have a
decent lie and some green to
work with, and play for
plenty of break. In a few
tries, you’ll soon wonder
why you ever messed with
hitting chips and lobs from
here in the first place.
It's Okay to leave it SHORT... Sometimes
Much has been said about leaving putts
short, and how it means the ball had no
chance of ever going in. Well, what about
putts that wind up a few feet past the hole?
They didn’t go in either!
Sometimes, the smart play is to leave the
ball short. Situations such as uphill putts
or steep breaking putts are better missed on
the short side because generally it means
you will have an easier, uphill putt left to
contend with. Rather, if you ram every putt
past the hole, the ball may roll too far
from you, leaving either lengthy putts or
tough downhillers to make in order to
prevent three-putts. A short putt isn’t all
bad, especially from long range.
How short is too short? Before I get into
trouble advising golfers to leave all their
putts short, know this: I’m not saying leave
them a few feet short. I’m talking inches,
And, this isn’t true for all putts. Most
putts should be hit with the full intention
of making it, which means the ball needs
enough roll to get to the hole. If you get
in a pattern of leaving the ball short too
often, instead of becoming a panic-putter
and developing the yips, try a different
Work on your chipping. Sharpen up your wedge
and iron game. You can become a better
putter if you have shorter putts to putt.
This is one reason touring professionals are
such great putters. They have shorter putts
than you do. From long range, they don’t
make many more than you do, but thanks to
having a sharper iron and short game,
they’re much more proficient at the short
putts. (I’m willing to bet they practice
short putts a whole lot more than amateurs
do.) Get out there and practice!
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